Pretty Lights

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Pretty Lights comes off whirlwind summer tour for first headlining red rocks show

:: Pretty Lights ::
:: w/ MiMOSA, Emancipator & Zion-I ::
:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: August 7 ::

By Hap Fry

It wasn’t a matter of national security. It was more about sanity and peace of mind.

When Derek Vincent Smith stepped outside for a smoke break during a layover at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport recently, the 6-foot-9-inch hip-hop/electronica wizard made sure his backpack was well protected by Thunder, his traveling VJ.

“I was like, ‘Don’t let this leave your body at all,’” Smith said during a recent telephone interview with The Marquee. “It was funny because it was so important to me.”

As far as backpacks go, Smith’s is pretty important. After all, it’s where he keeps his laptop that essentially doubles as his studio. And there’s no shortage of work to be done for the creator of Pretty Lights — especially not after Smith signed himself up to put out not one, not two, but three albums this year.

“Everybody’s got a different work flow and creative process,” Smith said. “It’s definitely a lofty goal, and it sounds pretty crazy to a lot of my friends. There are things that are stressful about it, but at the same time it also lights a fire under your ass. Whenever there’s a deadline looming, it keeps me continually motivated. I mean, I don’t want to disappoint my fans.”

Making up a Changing Mind, Smith’s first album of 2010, was released in March. While at O’Hare, Smith said, he was putting the finishing touches on his second that came out July 29. The third should be out sometime this fall.

Fans of Pretty Lights will be able to get an ample dose of the second album and a host of other songs when Smith takes the stage at Red Rocks later this month for his first show at the famed outdoor venue. To say the former CU student Smith — who left the university during his freshman year to focus on music — is excited about the gig would be an understatement.

“It’s one of the most famous venues in the country and even the world,” said Smith, who will be joined at Red Rocks, as he always is in the live setting, by Colorado drummer Corey Eberhard. “Just the fact that I’m from here, it’s always been — I wouldn’t say a dream — more like a fantasy for me to play there. Just the fact that I have the opportunity to play there and even to sell it out is incredible. I’m just really concentrating on making it the best show possible. Not only am I working my ass off on the record but also on a lot of special songs and remixes and things like that which will add to the evening, and also the production with all the lights, lasers and video we are going to be bringing in. It’s going to be my biggest show times 10.” Smith admitted he’s been thinking about the Red Rocks show on a daily basis, and said there’s a chance a live DVD could come out of it.

“I keep a note open on my iPhone so whenever I think of an idea for the set, I can jot it down,” Smith said. “I’m never running out of ideas for what I can do with that show.”

Fortunately for Smith, he’s had plenty to keep him busy. In addition to working on his triad of albums for 2010, Smith has had an eventful summer. The festival circuit he’s played has included (or will include before the summer is over) stops at Summer Camp, Bonnaroo, Outside Lands, and Camp Bisco, where he was en route to during his conversation with The Marquee.

“Last year, I was the artist on the small side stages,” Smith said. “Now I’m headlining stages. It’s awesome because now I have the ability to actually put on a show, and I can bring in production and everything I want to accompany my music and make it a spectacle.”

If all of this weren’t enough, Smith, who has had no traditional music training and taught himself all of the instruments he plays and all of the software he utilizes in his productions, created his own record label, Pretty Lights Music, in June. The label allows up-and-coming artists the ability to post their music up on his site.

Michael Menert, who will play a late-night show at the Boulder Theater after Pretty Lights’ Red Rocks show, released his album Dreaming of a Bigger Life on Smith’s label.

“It’s been something I’ve wanted to do since the project started,” Smith said. “I’ve got so many talented friends who have the potential to take it to the professional level.”

Smith’s schedule is hectic at best, but the Pretty Lights frontman, who has said that he classifies himself as a composer, producer and musician, but not a DJ, said it’s like that out of necessity.

“If I’m touring all of the time and not able to be creative, that’s what could potentially turn me or any other artist jaded,” Smith said. “Putting out more music keeps my shows more exciting, which then keeps me wanting to perform and tour and therefore keeps me from burning out quicker.”

:: Pretty Lights ::

:: w/ MiMOSA, Emancipator & Zion-I ::

:: Red Rocks Amphitheatre :: August 7 ::

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